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The hunting of whales for food, oil, or both.

The hunting of whales by Eskimos and Native Americans began around 100 a.d. in North America. In Europe the systematic hunting of whales began during the Middle Ages and greatly expanded in the seventeenth century. Whaling was driven by the desire to procure whale oil and sperm oil. Whale oil comes from baleen whales and is an edible product that was used in the making of margarine and cooking oil. Sperm oil, which comes from sperm whales, was used for illuminating lamps, as an industrial lubricant, and as a component of soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes.

During the nineteenth century, the U.S. whaling fleet dominated the world industry. Most of the seven hundred U.S. ships sailed out of New Bedford and Nantucket, Massachusetts. However, the industry went into a steep decline with the discovery and exploitation of petroleum during the late nineteenth century. Though new uses for sperm oil were developed, the U.S. fleet gradually disappeared.

In the early twentieth century, concerns were raised about the dwindling whale population. An international movement to regulate the hunting of whales met resistance from Scandinavian countries and Japan, but in 1931 the League of Nations convened a Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. It proved unsuccessful because several important whaling states refused to participate.

Annual international whaling conferences led to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in 1946, which established the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The IWC was charged with the conservation of whale stocks. It limited the annual Antarctic kill and created closed areas and hunting seasons throughout the world. Despite these initiatives and others over the years, the whale population edged closer to extinction, and the IWC agreed in 1982 to prohibit commercial whaling beginning in 1986. Commercial whaling has continued, however, often under the fiction of capturing specimens for scientific research.

In 1990 a scientific study was begun to determine if the whaling Moratorium should be lifted. Though the study indicated that whale populations were growing, in 1993 the United States refused to agree to a resumption of commercial whaling, and the IWC agreed. The United States warned that if a country (primarily Japan, Norway, or Iceland) ignored the IWC conservation program and resumed commercial whaling without IWC approval, that country's actions would be reviewed, and sanctions would be considered where appropriate.

Further readings

Freeman, Milton M. R., et al. 1998. Inuit, Whaling, and Sustainability. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press.


Environmental Law; Fish and Fishing.

References in periodicals archive ?
People can buy and all the money goes to Save The Whales.
com, lets you buy items from her wardrobe and all the money goes to charity Save the Whales Again.
THOUSANDS of people spell out an important message yesterday for the Save The Whales Again event on Bondi Beach, Australia.
COLOURS AND CAUSES: Yellow: Lance Armstrong cancer charity, or supporting US troops Blue: Anti-bullying, anti-Bush vote, tsunami relief, or prostate cancer Pink: Breast cancer Red: Heart disease, vote Bush, anti-tobacco, HIV Red and silver: Joshua Foundation Purple: Cystic fibrosis, lupus (also orange), domestic violence, Ty Hafan White: Jesus loves me, right to life Orange: Asperger's syndrome, self-harm Grey: Diabetes, brain cancer Black and white: Racism in football Green: Ecology, leukaemia, organ donor Gold: Childhood cancer Black: Mourning, melanoma Violet: Save the whales, eat more vegetables.
Deb Findlow of WDCS said: "The money raised from the sale of Inis will help save the whales and dolphins all over the world.
This disturbed me, not because I thought I was gay but because it was such an uncharitable opinion coming from a woman who otherwise wanted to save the whales and the crack babies of the world.
amp; NEW YORK -- Affinity credit cards do a lot more than they used to, and now they save the whales too.